The decreasing number of tap shows and tap classes available in Australia would have you believe that people no longer care about tap dancing – that it’s a dying trend. However the sold-out shows, electric audience enthusiasm and phenomenal talent of shows like Tap Dogs, Virada and now The Tap Pack prove that’s not the case. The Tap Pack’s wow-factor, exciting choreography and all-round fun will have you leaving the theatre wondering, “Why don’t we have more tap in Australia?”
The Tap Pack, a play on the ‘Rat Pack’ consisting of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jnr, Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop, have created a show that blends the classic with the contemporary. With its vintage cocktail bar setting, its live jazz band and its straight-out-of-West-Side-Story accents, The Tap Pack bring back the golden era of tap dancing with outstanding clarity. However, the show is far from outdated; from the opening with busker “Blue” jamming in the foyer with his cajón and his hip-hop-style tapping to Ben Browne’s swing renditions of Top 40 hits by the likes of Ed Sheeran, the audience is reminded that tap is about much more than Fred Astaire and black-and-white movies.
Tap is a great vehicle to show a personal flair, and The Tap Pack embraces this; each performer gets a chance to show off. Though Ben Browne’s magic skills are (intentionally) laughable, his crisp voice and musicality shine through in the show, particularly during his sing off with Sean Mulligan. Mulligan is a natural heart-throb, with a voice like Sinatra and deadly confidence. Christopher Horsey neatly transitions between dancing like an embarrassing dad at a wedding and dancing like Gene Kelly, and Thomas Egan perfectly captures the battling cheesy comedy and vintage class of the show. Jesse Rasmussen is a highlight; his streetwise tap style and his outstanding agility open the show with a bang and he creates an instant chemistry with the audience.
The live band, the Tap Pack Bandits, add to the infectious energy of the show. They’re not afraid to ham it up, which, in a show like this, is a necessity, but they have the skill to back it up; this is made obvious by their ability to improvise as the dancers weave different rhythms on the fly.
With all the great things it has going, The Tap Pack isn’t flawless – some technical difficulties with a microphone marred what would have been a lovely, sentimental moment and the show felt like it was starting to run out of steam – but it’s a truly unique and hugely entertaining experience.
The show simultaneously has more cheese than a dairy farm and more class than a college, and it’ll leave you craving a dirty martini. Who could ask for more?